The Grand Strand Optimist Club is encouraging students in the area to speak their minds in this year’s Optimist Oratorical Contest. The topic for all of the clubs’ contest is “How My Optimism Helps Me Press On to the Greater Achievements of the Future.”
It is open to students under the age of 19 who have not graduated from high school or the equivalent. There is no minimum age.
Speeches will be judged on content and presentation. Winners will receive awards, and the winning speeches will be sent to the area zone level and possibly to the state level for the opportunity to win college scholarships of $2,500.
Local competition for the Grand Strand Oratorical Contest will be held on April 7 at 5:30 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, 901 N. Kings Highway, Myrtle Beach. Each speech will be four to five minutes. The deadline to register is March 31.
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“As they prepare for their future, many of our local students need experience expressing their thoughts and opinions to an audience,” said Tom Wesley, president of the Grand Strand club. “The oratorical contest challenges them to do just that and also offers an opportunity for scholarships. In this way, our club hopes to bring out the best in each of them and help them achieve their goals for the future.
“In an era of social networking, the ability to look an audience in the eye and speak convincingly cannot be overstated.”
Optimist International is one of the world’s largest service club organizations with about 100,000 adult and youth members in 3,400 clubs in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Mexico and throughout the world.
The Optimist Oratorical Contest is one of the organization’s most popular programs, with more than 2,000 clubs participating annually. Carrying the motto “Bringing Out the Best in Kids,” Optimists conduct service projects reach more than 6 million young people each year.
The Grand Strand Optimist Club has been active in the community since 1984 and has been participating in the contest for more than 20 years. Local students from that club and others have won scholarships over the years.
The South Strand Optimist Club’s oratorical contest is being held March 12 at 4 p.m. at Waccamaw High School. Last year, two Waccamaw students won local, district and state competitions, and more than $5,000 in scholarships.
To find a club in your area or to learn more about Optimist International, call 314-371-6000 or visit www.optimist.org.
John Plesha is coordinator for the South Strand Optimist contest and can be reached at email@example.com.